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Laptops
Tablets and convertibles may be enticing for some, but others prefer a good old clamshell laptop. If you're among that number, we think these are the ones most worth your while.

Product Specifications Price

HP Envy 13t (2017)
Display: 13.3" 1920x1080 or 3840x2160
Processor: Intel Core i7-7500U
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 256GB to 1TB NVMe SSD
Battery life: 14 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac (2x2), Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.6"
Weight: 2.6 lbs
Base: $869.99

$1,019.99
(Core i7-7200U CPU, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM, 4K display)

Surface Laptop
Display: 13.5" 2256x1504
CPU: Intel Core i5-7200U or Core i7-7660U
RAM: 4GB, 8GB, or 16GB
Storage: 128GB to 512GB NVMe SSD
Battery life: 14.5 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac Bluetooth 4.0 LE
Thickness: 0.6"
Weight: 2.8 lbs

Base: $999

$1,299
(Core i5 CPU, 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM)


HP Zbook Studio G4
Display: 15.6" 1920x1080 or 3840x2160
CPU: Intel Core i5-7300HQ to Xeon E3-15353M
RAM: 8GB to 32GB, ECC w/ Xeon CPU
Storage: 128GB to 1TB NVMe SSD
Battery life: ~6-8 hours; 92 Whr option
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.6"
Weight: 2.6 lbs
Base:  $1049

$2,662.02
(Xeon E3-1505M,
256GB SSD, 16GB ECC RAM,
4K wide gamut display, 92Whr battery)

Apple MacBook (2017)
Display: 12" 2304x1440
CPU: Intel Core m3-7Y32, i5-7Y54 and i7-7Y75 (dual-core)
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 256GB or 512GB PCIe SSD
Battery life: 10 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.5"
Weight: 2 lbs
$1,299.99
(256GB SSD,
1.2GHz CPU,
8GB RAM)

Apple MacBook Pro
(2017, 13" or 15")
Display: 13.3" 2560x1600, 15"
CPU: Intel Core i5-7360U, i5-7267U, i7-7700HQ, or i7-7820HQ
GPU: Radeon Pro 555 or 560 (optional on 15")
RAM: 8GB or 16GB
Storage: 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB PCIe SSDs
Battery life: 10 hours
Connectivity: 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0
Thickness: 0.6"
Weight: 3 lbs

Base: $1,299


$1,799
(13", 256GB SSD,
3.1GHz CPU,
8GB RAM)

HP Envy 13t (2017)
What's the definition of a laptop that's "just right?" This one here, folks. HP is pulling off a gutsy move by using a Core i7-7500U processor as a base spec for the 13t. The memory options likewise start at 8GB instead of the pedestrian 4GB we see in many other offerings. The 1920x1080 screen that comes installed by default is nice enough on its own, but what we're really looking for is the 4K option that comes in at a relatively modest price.

The bezel-less screen and graphite color option make the machine quite the looker, and the port selection ticks all the right boxes: two USB 3.0 Type-C ports and another two Type-A ports, a headphone-and-microphone jack, and an SD card reader. Our selected configuration will run you up $1,019.99 for a Core i7-7500U CPU, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of NVMe storage, and that beautiful 4K screen.

Surface Laptop
Well, well, well. Microsoft could already boast of the detachable Surface Pro tablet and the hinged Surface Book convertible in its mobile lineup. The company must have decided that two approaches weren't enough, and it's since let loose the Surface Laptop on the world.


Surface Laptop (Arc Mouse not included)

The key word for this machine seems to be "luxury." The 13.5" 2256x1504 screen is touch-responsive and offers excellent color reproduction, the machine weighs only 2.8 lbs, the battery purportedly lasts up to 14.5 hours, and the keyboard is clad in smooth alcantara suede. Reviewers everywhere have praised the machine's top-notch build quality and quiet acoustics. The Core i5 version is even entirely fanless. The Surface Laptop starts at $999, and we've picked out a balanced configuration for $1,299 that includes a Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD.

HP ZBook Studio G4
The ultraportable machines above are all nice, but serious tasks beget serious hardware. If your work needs some serious oomph, you'd do well to look at a machine like the 15.6" HP ZBook Studio. Although the base configurations are rather tame, the machine can be set up with up to a Xeon E3-1515M CPU (four cores running at up to 4.2 GHz with Hyper-Threading), 32GB of ECC RAM, and a Quadro M1200 graphics card. The default screen is option is a 1920x1080 affair, but all anyone should have eyes for is the DreamColor 4K model. There are two spots for NVMe SSDs inside for good measure.

Reviewers praise this laptop's display and hardware options in particular. Given the hardware on offer, the battery life for this machine isn't in the same league as an ultrabook's, but there's a 96 Whr option available that we recommend for the higher-end configurations. Our sample configuration goes for $2662.02, and it includes a Xeon E3-1505M CPU, a 256GB SSD, 16GB of ECC RAM, and, of course, that 4K wide-gamut display.

Apple MacBook
At only half an inch thick and a breath over two pounds, the MacBook is barely a tangible thing, yet Apple somehow managed to cram a 12" Retina display and a full-sized keyboard in there. The Force Touch trackpad is slimmer than traditional clickpads, but feels a lot like one thanks to a clever electromagnetic haptic feedback system. Meanwhile, the system's battery life stretches beyond 10 hours, thanks in part to the display's ability to let more light pass through its pixel matrix.

The MacBook now uses Kaby Lake CPUs across the board. The entry-level model uses a Core m3 CPU and comes with 256GB of storage, while the higher-end models use Core i5 or Core i7 CPUs and have a roomy 512GB SSD. Either of those options should offer plenty of CPU for both regular and above-average macOS needs. The one true pain point on this machine might be its lone USB-C port, which handles everything from charging to peripheral I/O to display output. That's a nice vision for the future, but it does mean living in a dongle-filled present. If you can stomach those limitations, the new MacBook starts at $1300.

Apple MacBook Pro
If your computing needs include more demanding apps like Photoshop or Final Cut Pro, or you simply prefer a swifter macOS experience, the newest MacBook Pro is the logical choice. The latest revision (since 2016) has received criticism for some of Apple's design choices. These machines only come with Thunderbolt 3 ports, and Apple ditched the older MacBook Pro keyboard for clickers with MacBook-like key travel, though there are reports that the 2017 update to the machine improves on that front. Fancier MacBook Pros now ditch the F-key row in favor of an OLED mini-screen called the Touch Bar. 

Even with all those changes, there's little arguing that the MacBook Pro remains a good choice for a high-performance laptop with an expansive creative canvas. The MacBook Pro comes with a wide-gamut panel capable of covering 100% of the DCI-P3 color space and hitting a retina-boiling 500 cd/m² maximum brightness.

Many seem to lament the so-called "dongle life," but TR Editor-in-Chief Jeff Kampman notes that the four Thunderbolt 3 ports on the MacBook Pro could actually be a blessing. His mid-2014 machine is saddled with two Thunderbolt 2 ports that work with practically nothing on the market, and his machine's two USB 3.0 ports rapidly fill up when he's doing video editing and audio recording all at once. He thinks that even with the need for dongles, having four useful USB ports backed up by Thunderbolt bandwidth is a major improvement for power users. He laments the death of the MagSafe charging port, though.

With those potential improvements in mind, we're recommending one of each of the 13" and 15" models. In the 13" corner, there's a model going for $1800 that packs a Core i5 Kaby Lake CPU, 8GB of RAM, integrated graphics, and a 256GB SSD. Those wishing to step things up can get the $2400 MacBook Pro 15" with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a dedicated Radeon Pro 560 graphics card with 4GB of VRAM. While none of these machines offer a particularly good value proposition, those invested in the macOS ecosystem already know what the deal is there.